Travelling with children can really test your nerves sometimes. With our tips, your trip will be fun and stress free for all those involved.
1. Don't forget anything
Write a checklist of everything you need to take with you. Make sure not to forget to take something to eat and drink (more information under item 2), a change of clothes if anyone's tempted by a puddle when playing, sun cream, a small first-aid kit with plasters and disinfection spray, tissues and wet wipes, for emergencies where there's no toilet in sight.
Make sure to also take some things to pass the time, for example painting materials, a picture book or a travel game. If you're travelling with a baby or an infant, of course you need a few more things on your list, such as nappies and their favourite toy.
If your child is old enough, let them be in charge of packing – during packing they can check the list and tick off the items you have packed. You can also let your children add up to three of their own items to the list, such as a cuddly toy.
2. Prevent tummy rumbles
The biggest enemy of family harmony – a hungry child. So make sure you always have enough to drink (water, tea, etc.) and a couple of healthy snacks with you. For example: cut-up fruit, vegetable sticks, hummus or herb cream cheese to dip them in, hard-boiled eggs, mini sandwiches, etc.
It may also be a good idea to establish a special food for on the move that you only have on trips and no other times. This could be something unusual like berry/cheese skewers or peanut butter/celery sticks. These types of rituals just increase the anticipation. Extra tip – always make small snacks pretty and colourful. This ensures that no one will be whining wanting a chocolate bar.
3. Grown-up little day trippers
Sometimes children want to feel like one of the grown-ups when travelling. Allow your children to carry their own (child's) backpack; give them some responsibility. Give your children tasks to do – one child can look for the hiking route on the map during the journey in the mountains, another "manages" the food and drink provisions and let's you know when they need topping up and the third has the task of looking out the window during the journey and letting everyone know if there's a particularly beautiful view.
Ask the conductor for a special children's ticket during your rail trip. Before the trip, you can also print them out online. Then even the youngest travellers have something to stamp when the conductor comes round to check the tickets.
4.Let your child be bored
Remember, you're not your children's entertainer on holidays. You therefore shouldn't immediately unpack all the entertainment when your kids start complaining about being bored. Because this is the only way that children can learn to be creative themselves. Of course, you should ideally have enough material to occupy them up your sleeve – coloured pencils and paper, modelling clay or their favourite book can entertain the kids during the journey.
During the trip itself you should encourage them to find things to play with in nature. Funny-shaped branches, pretty stones, unfamiliar flowers and leaves – these won't just subdue any boredom, but are also a nice reminder of the time you spent together when you return home. And they'll be the perfect distraction on the journey back.
5. Take time for yourself
Conversely, mum and dad should never be "too busy" or "not have time right now" when travelling with the kids. Because the time when you're away is time that belongs to the whole family. Taking some work for the journey or quickly making a couple of business calls is therefore an absolute no-no. Take time to have conversations with your child, let them point out things out the window or on the edge of the path, read to them.
Games that the whole family can play are also great – I spy, the yes/no game (the players ask each other questions; anyone that answers with yes or no loses) or the word chain game (the first player says "dishwasher", the second says "washerwoman", the third says "womankind" etc.) are true classics if you're travelling with children. Also encourage your children to invent games themselves that everyone can take part in. Or simply move family game night into the train carriage or the field – there are compact travel versions of plenty of board games for when you're on the move (e.g. Ludo, Yahtzee, Taboo, etc.). Games that mean you have to move a bit are great for the journey (hand games, skill exercises) – because sitting still for a long time isn't fun for anyone, whether old or young.